Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett
Tennessee State Library and Archives
Research and Collections
Federal Civil War Burial Sheets

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Federal Civil War Burial Sheets Project

Full plate, hand-tinted tintype of Sgt. Franklin Cummings, Company A, 6th Tennessee Infantry Regiment, USA
In February 1862, the City of Nashville was surrendered to the Federal Army and then occupied. Nashville would become a city of hospitals with as many as 25 hospitals during one period. Interments of the many soldiers, who died from wounds and from disease in Nashville hospitals, became the duty of the occupying army. The Federal Army employed W. R. Cornelius, a local undertaker, to bury Confederate and Federal soldiers. All available land was used within the City Cemetery. Then the Federal Army authorized the purchase of additional acres adjoining the City Cemetery. These additions were known as the Due West and Southwest cemeteries.

One burial book, kept by W. R. Cornelius, is in the TSLA collection. Cornelius kept careful records of the Civil War soldiers buried in Nashville during 1864 and 1865. These soldiers, buried by Cornelius, were not recorded in the City Cemetery Interment Books. When the Final Disposition Volume III was made available on-line, it was learned that 3,021 Federal soldiers had been buried in City Cemetery and also that there had been 8,593 Federal soldiers brought from other, original burial sites and re-interred on “U.S. Burial Grounds, near Nashville.” No local Civil War historian knew the location of these large “Burial Grounds, near Nashville.”

The Roll of Honor, published by the U. S. Quartermaster in 1869, did not list the exact site of original burials in Nashville, instead only “Buried near Nashville.” It listed a total of 16,485 re-burials of Federal soldiers, from original burial sites in Tennessee and Kentucky, to the Nashville National Cemetery. These re-burials took place between October 1867 and January 1868.

In the Introduction to the Roll of Honor, the public was informed:
… A full and complete record of all interments in the Nashville National Cemetery, together with a complete copy of all burial sheets has been deposited at the cemetery for information of friends and visitors … a duplicate copy of the burial sheets will be found on deposit in the office of the Quartermaster General at Washington…
Sample Burial Sheet
This is one of many pages of the record of reinterment of United States soldiers in Tennessee.

The burial sheets for the Federal soldiers dis-interred at gravesites in Tennessee and Kentucky and then reburied at Nashville National Cemetery were eventually located in the Military Records branch at the National Archives. Of special interest was the identification of 3,021 soldiers dis-interred from the Nashville City Cemetery as well as of 8,593 soldiers dis-interred from U.S. Burial Grounds Due West City Cemetery, Nashville, and U.S. Burials Grounds Southwest City Cemetery, Nashville. The Tennessee State Library & Archives had these burial records microfilmed by the National Archives. The next step was a transcription and database project for the “burial sheets.” TSLA Friends offered to seek funds. The first donation came from Nashville City Cemetery Association and subsequently from individual donors to underwrite the project.

Transcription work was conducted under the auspices of TSLAFriends, employing transcriptionists who used digital images created from the microfilm. This position was funded by donations from individuals and the Nashville City Cemetery Association as well as through grant funding from the Tennessee Wars Commission.

Entries were transcribed as accurately and thoroughly as possible, including handwritten changes to names and other information. Crossed-out text is noted as such. All columns in the original ledger book were included in the transcription. Names were cross-checked with those listed in the Roll of Honor to help verify identity and names were also checked by a supervisor to ensure accuracy. Capitalization, punctuation and spelling were kept as found in the original ledger.

We gratefully acknowledge the leadership of Fletch Coke, who first suggested this project and assisted in many ways to bring it to completion.